Working with Children with Special Needs.

Buffalo Photographer for Children with Special Needs

Here's a little "fun facts" story about me and working with children. I strongly believe things happen for a reason and your path in life leads you thru different experiences for a reason. A lot of people are surprised when they ask me if I went to school for this and I say no...I have a Master's Degree in Speech Pathology....I love all things to do with art and creative fields and throughout the six years of college planned on focusing on Voice Disorders, moving to NYC, and working with professional singers. After grad school I did indeed move down near NYC, but ended up working in a preschool and my caseload was primarily children with autism. Far from voice disorders, and far from photography, but at the time I thought It was the best job in the world! Trying to find ways to keep a 3 or 4 year old entertained in what I was doing and motivated enough to want to communicate with me was challenging and fulfilling. The most rewarding moment ever was when after months of trying one of my little guys spontaneously let me know he wanted more chicken nuggets....anyone working in this field can understand how huge this was!....Fast forward 8 years and I'm no longer in that profession, but I strongly believe those experiences are what helps me be so successful when working with children. I have so many techniques I use to get kids to have fun and be themselves while still accomplishing what I need to have done to get that great photo. Telling them to sit and smile never works if they aren't feeling it....but I've had several sessions where parents say, "I cannot believe you got them to do that!"  

I recently had a mom of a child with special needs ask me if I would do a session with them because of her child needing extra time and the last experience they had had with a pro photographer was not a good one. I hope that anyone reading this will remember me if they or someone they know has a child with special needs and is looking for a photographer. It doesn't matter if the child has autism, is in a wheelchair, maybe they're extra shy and the pressure of a camera and a stranger is overwhelming, maybe the feeling of grass or sand is overstimulating and they don't want to leave mom's lap....whatever the case may be, I believe every child deserves photos of themselves and every mom should have a photo of herself holding or hugging or kissing her child. I have patience for days and the understanding that something minor to us like the feeling of grass might be overwhelming to a child with a sensory disorder. I just want families to know that I have this experience and they don't need to avoid a photo session or have to end an email with "I understand if you don't want to" or think they have to apologize during a session if it takes extra time to work with their child. I am here to provide my skill and give you the best service that I can no matter what!

kellie szkatulski